Over the weekend started the month of Ramadan, where many of our Muslim students will be fasting from sunrise to sunset – no food, no water (except in instances such as illness, pregnancy or age). At sunset, families get together to break their fast and also engage in prayers, which can sometimes go until 10pm in the evening.

In the past I’d made accomodations to support students ad hoc, but now I have a much larger cohort (1600+ students and a large team of tutors), I thought it might be useful to put some guidelines together for our team.

Helping your students to feel supported during Ramadan

I asked my first year students as well as academics of Muslim faith for tips on how we can support them during Ramadan and we have the following suggestions:

  • Hold tests or exams during the day before lunchtime – as fasting for long periods (especially without water) does affect brain function.
  • Assessments due at 11.59pm rather than between 6 to 10pm, to allow students to submit tasks after prayers.
  • Permitting students to leave classes briefly around sunset to break their fast and engage in prayers.
  • Provide allowed absences for students for classes after 5.30pm or permit them to attend a daytime class during Ramadan.
  • Notify students that the Multi-Faith chaplaincy is available for prayer on campus.
  • Ask students for their input on what other support you can provide.

Other requests from students included lightening workload and assessments – but that is something you’d need to consider cohort-wide rather than for a subset of students, and is therefore less feasible as an accommodation (unlike in Muslim countries where the entire semester and university schedule is modified to accomodate Ramadan).

Have we missed anything from our list? Have you supported students in other ways? I’d love to hear about them!

Feature image by Naim Benjelloun.

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